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11 July 2016

Researchers decode Olive tree DNA

Researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the Real Jardín Botánico and the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico managed to decode the olive tree genome by using a 1,300-year-old specimen.
Over the last decade,  a number of plant species have had their genetic code assembled, annotated, and made publicly available. Now the olive tree can be added to this list of sequenced plant genomes. During the research, the team of the scientists have discovered that the olive tree’s genes are over 56.000, much more than other plant species, and double that of the human genome. This is the first time that the DNA of an individual over 1,000years old, and which will probably live another 1,300 years, has been sequenced.
Understanding the olive tree’s genetic code will provide useful information to scientists and help them understand a variety of factors related to the tree, including its longevity, its adaptability to arid conditions, and differences between the varieties, sizes and flavor of olives. Ultimately, this will also facilitate new research into genetic improvement for the production of olives and olive oil, and how to protect the olive tree from bacteria and infections.